An Empirical Intervention
Shweta Moorthy
ON THEIR WATCH: MASS VIOLENCE AND STATE APATHY IN INDIA: STATE ACCOUNTABILITY by Surabhi Chopra Three Essays Collective, Gurgaon, 2015, 374 pp., 750
March 2015, volume 39, No 3

In November 2014, twelve years and twenty-four extensions later, the Nanavati Commission of Enquiry submitted its final report on the 2002 communal violence in Gujarat. Published a month before the report came out, On their Watch provides us the means to understand how the Indian state disburses justice in the aftermath of communal violence. Are inquiry Commission such as the Nanavati (that also enquired into the 1984 anti-Sikh riots) effective in holding government officials accountable? Does the criminal justice system have the capacity to indict and prosecute perpetrators of communal violence? Are survivors of violence provided adequate relief and rehabilitation? These are the questions that the authors of this book seek to answer. It is to their credit that their assessment raises even more questions about substantive and procedural elements of justice. This review is organized around the substantive and empirical contributions of the book.

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